Carrying Nat Turner in their little carts.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
To the Honbl the General Assemby of N. Carolina
Your memorialists respectfully shew unto your Honorable Body: That the County of Lenoir has been for many years regularly visited on all public occasions, by free negroes & slaves hiring their time, from the adjoining Counties, & particularly from the Town of Newbern. The ostensible object of these persons has been to retail cakes, tobacco & spiritous liquors. The good citizens of the County have always believed that the [illegible] and within the last five years have been firmly convinced, that the visits of such characters, have not only produced serious loss & inconvenience by the temptations which are thus held out to their slaves, to steal lambs, pigs & poultry to barter with them, but is calculated to do a far more serious and incalculable injury by the facilities offered for the [illegible] among their slaves. Enjoying the privilege of travelling in their little carts from one County town to another, these black pedlars have it within their power to distribute, without suspicion, in any nook & corner of the Country, the pamphlets of [illegible] as well as communicate verbally the murderous plans of a Nat Turner. The acquaintances your memorialists have with these characters, completely satisfies them that they are fit instruments for such purposes.
An application has heretofore been made to your Honourable Body for relief on the subject & a remedial act had been passed which your memorialists to believe was intended to meet this case, but which unfortunately was so farmed as to prove entirely nugatory.
That act authorized the slaves & free negroes of Newbern to trade on Lenoir County, under a license taken out in Craven. As the tax imposed by the late law does not amount to a prohibition, its chief consequence is to enlarge the revenue of Craven without affording any relief to to Lenoir. In tender consideration of the previous, Your memorialists to earnestly request of your Honourable Body, that you will further legislate on this matter, and authorise the County of Lenoir to exclude all coloured retailers of cakes, spirits &c. from its limits, but such as may be licensed by the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, or impose a prohibitory tax & if [illegible] of these modes of restraint shall seem fit, that you will adopt some measure which will annihilate the grievance. /s/ Matthew H. Carr, John B. Kennady [and others]